Stay Active to Help RA Symptoms: Even Light Exercises Count!

Cathee McKeown Health Guide
  • The campaign for this years World Arthritis Day on October 12, 2006 is “Take Action!’ This is probably one of the most important messages that we can send around the world to all of us who suffer from Arthritis. For me, it really brings home the point of how important exercise is to maintain healthy joints and muscles. It is so easy to get stuck in the frame of mind that you can’t exercise with Arthritis. “It hurts too much!” “It takes too much energy.” “I just don’t feel like moving while I am in so much pain.” Believe me, I have said these things to myself and others too many times to count. But the fact of the matter is that you can and should exercise daily. No matter how much pain you are in, get moving! Start small…go for a 5 minute walk. Do some stretches that will help loosen your stiff muscles. One thing I just couldn’t believe is that weight lifting is highly recommended to help with Arthritis pain. By strengthening your muscles you actually take some of the pressure off of certain joints, therefore helping with the pain. Start with lighter weights and work your way up to heavier ones. If you give it some time you will really see a difference!
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    My favorite way to exercise is swimming. I either go to a heated pool and work on a kickboard along with a few strokes or do warm water exercises in my hot tub. Just some basic leg lifts and some arm strokes in the hot tub can really loosen you up. I also know many people who participate in Tai Chi or Qi Gong. There are literally hundreds of options to consider. Just consider something instead of doing nothing. That is what ‘Take Action!” is all about.

    Another way to take action is to help educate others about the various forms of Arthritis. Be vocal. Share your ideas with others and get feedback on how others are afflicted. I talk to so many people who can’t understand how someone like myself (I was diagnosed with RA at age 27) could have arthritis. I am more than happy to share my story if it could help anyone else get an early diagnosis or encourage someone to go visit their doctor if they are having joint pain.

    My goal for the next couple of years is to really get involved in my local chapter at The Arthritis Foundation. Being involved with a local group in your community gives you an opportunity to help raise awareness and reach out to others in the community. Associations, advocates and local Arthritis Chapters can make a difference! By educating the decisionmakers of public policy on how difficult living with Arthritis is, they can go to Congress and speak for us. Their influence can help change policy and open so many doors for the millions of people around the world who suffer each and every day. ‘Take Action!’ I think that is something we can all do. I know that I need to do more and on October 12, 2006, I plan to!

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Published On: October 12, 2006